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ECLAC’s Executive Secretary is Awarded the “Gustavo Martínez Cabañas” Medal for International Administrative Merit

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2 May 2017|Press Release

Alicia Bárcena received this important distinction from Mexico’s National Institute of Public Administration for her contribution “to strengthening the country’s prestige abroad.”


Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC, receiving INAP's award.
Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC, receiving INAP's award (center), joined by Carlos Reta Martínez, Chair of INAP’s Board (right), and Ambassador Alejandro Carrillo Castro.
Photo: ECLAC

The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, received today in Mexico City the “Gustavo Martínez Cabañas” Medal for International Administrative Merit, awarded by Mexico’s National Institute of Public Administration (INAP).

This important distinction, which is given in recognition of a prominent Mexican whose performance in the national and international arena has allowed for the country’s prestige to be strengthened abroad, was awarded to her during a ceremony led by Carlos Reta Martínez, Chair of INAP’s Board, and Ambassador Alejandro Carrillo Castro. Well-known personalities from academic, political and social circles in Mexico attended the event.

The medal, which bears the name of ECLAC’s first Executive Secretary (1948-1950), has only been awarded on three prior occasions: it was received by Fernando Solana Morales, former Secretary of Foreign Affairs and of Public Education, and head of Mexico’s former Secretariat of Trade; José Ángel Gurría Treviño, current Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); and Bernardo Sepúlveda Amor, Vice President of the International Court of Justice.

“I receive this award with pride and interpret it as recognition of the work that hundreds of women and men at ECLAC carry out each day, in favor of our region’s egalitarian development,” Alicia Bárcena said upon being awarded the medal.

In addition, Bárcena made reference to Gabino Fraga Magaña, the founder of INAP and father of modern administrative law and of the international leadership that distinguished Mexico in important global forums such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration of The Hague and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which he presided.

On this occasion, the senior United Nations official gave a keynote speech about the economic prospects of Latin America and the Caribbean in the current global context. She indicated that a dizzying change of era is taking place that exacerbates the contradictions of a development pattern that has become unsustainable.

“We are facing a world with greater uncertainty, volatility and citizen disenchantment that has motivated the search for responses on the part of the international community. The approval of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 goals (SDGs) is a civilizing step, which recognizes equality and sustainability as the main guiding principles on which a new battery of global, regional and national collective strategies and policies must be based,” Alicia Bárcena stated.

Bárcena indicated that Latin America and the Caribbean faces great challenges today due to the deep economic, social and environmental imbalances that prevail in the region. After two years of contraction, growth will return to positive, but still low, rates this year, of around 1.1%, although with marked differences among subregions: Central America and Mexico will grow about 2.3%, while South America will only expand 0.6%.

In addition, she explained that average inflation is 8%, with a fiscal deficit that remained steady between 2015 and 2016 and moderate growth of the public debt. In terms of trade, ECLAC estimates that in 2016 the value of the region’s exported goods fell 5%, while foreign direct investment dropped 9.1% in 2015, hitting its lowest level since 2010. Meanwhile, poverty reduction has stagnated and there are still 175 million people in that state, 75 million of whom are in situations of extreme poverty or indigence.

“For that reason, there is nothing more timely and necessary for our region than to reflect on the challenges of the public administration that looks after managing what belongs to us all. Because humanity today will need all the available instruments to transform our patterns of development, production, consumption and coexistence to achieve the sustainable development set forth in the 2030 Agenda,” Bárcena indicated.

“It is in this scenario that ECLAC is proposing new institutions and public-private alliances at a national, regional and global level to fully achieve this Agenda, via a progressive structural change based on an environmental big push,” the Executive Secretary of the United Nations regional organization stressed.

Alicia Bárcena emphasized that the complex period we are living through marks a turning point for rethinking development, with greater protagonism by social actors, with the aim of restoring the centrality of essential values such as the general interest and the provision of public goods.

“We are convinced that a new state architecture is needed that permits the State to take a bigger role in ensuring general welfare and in leading our countries’ development strategies,” Bárcena said. “And that effort demands public administrators who can rise to the challenge, qualified servants with social sensitivity and awareness of the irreplaceable role that public policy plays in the forging of a dignified and prosperous community.”